“We ARE making preparations for second wave”

Philippe De Backer (Flemish liberal), the minister responsible for the corona taskforce and medical aid supplies, has insisted that this country is preparing for a possible second wave of corona virus.  Mr De Backer’s intervention comes after the Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy from the lockdown, GEES, voiced concerns about a lack of preparations.

Mr De Backer pointed to changes in Belgium’s test strategy: “We will also test people without symptoms, people who have been in contact with corona patients.”

Protocols have been drawn up for schools and care homes to ensure people know how to respond if the virus re-emerges and there are new sources of infection.  Confidence in the track and trace system still needs to be beefed up, Mr De Backer concedes: “Too few people are providing too little information.”

He notes that now there are fewer infections, it is an opportunity to evaluate, but also to prepare properly. Confronted with fears the decision process could grind to a halt now that the worst is over, Mr De Backer acknowledged that in a country like Belgium where great consultation is needed, it isn’t always easy to take a decision: “This is a very complex country.  I believe too many people need to be consulted sometimes.  In crisis situations, you need to be able to decide quickly.”

The corona czar also has concerns about the fact that the federal and devolved governments are equal partners: “It needs to be looked at.  You need clear agreement on who does what.”

A tracing app is now planned after all, but its introduction isn’t an easy process. Contact tracing is a responsibility of Belgium’s regions that are currently working on a co-operation agreement. “In parallel an app ca be built” Mr De Backer says. “I hope to roll it out at the start of July.”

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